3 Successful Heavy-Duty Trucking Campaigns, How We Did It


John Leibrick

Vice President, Insight Director

From axles and engines to job sites and highways all across America, Mower is providing marketing solutions that go far beyond expectations.

Daimler Trucks North America is a leading manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks and components. Mower worked for three DTNA brands—Freightliner On-Highway and Freightliner Vocational Trucks and Detroit—each with specific business challenges and opportunities. In this article, we tell the story of how we developed successful brand and integrated marketing communications solutions to drive growth.

Brand as Friend® is Mower’s unique perspective that helps us build deeper relationships using the simple but powerful attributes most important to creating and activating friendships—affection, relevance and trust. We then use a combination of art and science to evaluate a brand’s relationships with its customers and make strategic recommendations that strengthen those relationships to meet our clients’ business goals. Our work with Daimler is a perfect example of how Brand as Friend helped us create brand and marketing strategies that created greater connections between heavy-duty truck buyers and the Freightliner and Detroit brands.

Freightliner On-Highway Trucks—Using Real Cost of Ownership to Differentiate and Drive Consideration and Market Share

When choosing which truck to purchase, it is common for buyers to consider the Total Cost of Ownership. This somewhat ubiquitous industry term is the name for any number of formulations, usually involving some combination of purchase price, fuel efficiency, routine maintenance costs and projected resale value. In practical reality it is neither consistent nor consistently reliable for all the many different applications for on-highway trucks. To more accurately project the true cost of a truck over its owner’s experience, one must start by assessing the specific real-world factors that make up that owner’s business reality. Mower helped turn this insight into a business-building opportunity for Freightliner On-Highway Trucks.

A thorough review of the category and its conventions identified something that everyone had ignored. Clearly fuel economy was a very important component of TCO and profitability but it wasn’t always the most important factor for a truck owner. For some, uptime could be more important; for others, driver and vehicle safety come first. In truth, TCO was much more involved than fuel economy but it was overused, ill-defined and just plain tired.

So, we flipped it. For Freightliner, we created something no one else in the on-highway truck category was talking about: Real Cost of Ownership (RCO), a way of describing the comprehensive evaluation of a truck’s financial impact on a business. RCO gave Freightliner’s sales and dealer teams a very different and effective way to counter competitors who were using TCO to quantify hard costs like fuel economy. Real Cost of Ownership became the only way to quantify lifetime truck savings considering both hard and soft costs.

The factors that affect Real Cost of Ownership are Safety, Fuel Efficiency, Connectivity, Uptime, Quality and Driver Experience, which together determine a truck’s real cost and the effect on the owner’s profitability.

RCO Infographics 1

Real Cost of Ownership was extremely well received by the industry. This unique selling proposition became the way dealers engaged with their customers on the benefits of purchasing a Freightliner truck. It gave them a new story to tell that allowed them to talk about the big picture of thinking beyond just fuel efficiency, helping achieve a 19% market-share increase over five years. At the end of the day, Freightliner changed the conversation and created a totally new way of looking at the real cost drivers for a truck purchase, which has differentiated them from competitors.

Mower activated Real Cost of Ownership through an integrated marketing campaign featuring real Freightliner customers talking about how much Real Cost of Ownership means to them. All on- and offline marketing drove people to a dedicated Real Cost of Ownership microsite that educated buyers on each factor and showcased how Freightliner was delivering on each one, lowering costs and boosting the bottom line.Freighliner On-Highway Tr

In the first year of using Real Cost of Ownership, Freightliner On-Highway Truck purchase consideration increased 2.7 percentage points, sales increased 14.5 percent and market share increased 2.5 percentage points. This campaign took the conversation beyond fuel efficiency, but also made an impact on where it counts most.

By changing that one word—from total to real—we gave Freightliner Trucks something only they could own. But Real Cost of Ownership went well beyond expectations for a marketing campaign. In fact, Real Cost of Ownership has since become how research and development thinks about truck innovation and is a key component of the sales strategy at Freightliner.

Freightliner Vocational Trucks—Recognizing the Hardest Working Cities to Elevate its Leadership Position

Freightliner needed Mower’s help to elevate awareness of its heavy-duty vocational trucks and create stronger relationships with dealers and work truck owners, overcoming a misperception among some that Freightliner was just an on-highway truck.

For this challenge, we went big. Our Hardest Working Cities campaign for Freightliner’s vocational trucks stretched across North America, bringing elected officials and business leaders, the media and the hard-working people who operate vocational trucks together as part of our effort to celebrate work being done in cities across North America. The plan: a tour of a dozen cities, where we hosted events that drew significant trade and local media attention to them and Freightliner.

First, we identified cities with the highest economic indicators, such as their contribution to overall GDP, employment growth in key industry sectors and Freightliner vocational truck sales. Once we selected our top cities, we hit the road to deliver the awards and give workers in those cities a much-deserved pat on the back, often at or near their job sites. We partnered with local Freightliner dealers to hold events where city officials accepted our award and the hard-working men and women who get work done were honored. Dignitaries at our events included mayors, city council members and members of local chambers of commerce.

HWC Infographics 1

More than 600 workers were honored at over 20 celebration events in 12 cities. These workers felt appreciated by Freightliner, and dealers reported increased awareness of their dealerships and even struck some deals for future work truck purchases.

Of course, the plan was always about so much more than just staging the events. No other truck OEM made such an effort to recognize vocational customers, markedly improving the visibility and perceptions of Freightliner as a leader in vocational trucks.

Supported by an integrated marketing communications campaign, including a Hardest Working Cities website, PR, pushing content via social media as well as trade and local market advertising, this campaign showcases Mower’s ability to address tough business challenges and drive results.

Detroit—Using a Legendary Reputation to Increase Penetration and Growth

Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) makes components at its Detroit Diesel business for use in the trucks it manufactures. Detroit had earned a legendary reputation for its heavy-duty engines, but the company had grown, becoming so much more by making transmissions, axles and integrated power train components as well as safety and connected-truck technologies. Mower’s campaign was designed to halo the company’s engine reputation across all Detroit components, and demonstrate its value to get truck buyers to “Demand Detroit” when spec’ing their DTNA trucks.

We needed to differentiate Detroit from its competition, so we leveraged a Brand as Friend driver—Story. When you have a legendary reputation in the industry, it pays to tell that story in a unique, authentic and intriguing way to capture the attention of buyers instead of trying to win on features and claims. So, in addition to leveraging the legendary reputation of Detroit engines, we showcased all their components in an innovative way, ghosting images inside the components to communicate the benefits they help to deliver—keeping trucks moving and getting the job done profitably.

Detroit Infographics 3

And our results we’re pretty impressive. Not only did penetration increase for Detroit heavy-duty engines in DTNA trucks, penetration also increased for other Detroit components and technologies.

Over time, Mower marketing teams worked with three separate entities within DTNA—Freightliner On-Highway Trucks, Freightliner Vocational Trucks and Detroit—creating distinct and very successful integrated marketing campaigns that tackled each brand’s core challenges with long-lasting results. For Freightliner and Detroit businesses, the highway ahead never looked so good.

Hey! Our name is pronounced Mōw-rrr, like this thing I’m pushing.

The PopUp Link